Moral Low Ground

US Government

Harry Reid Blasts Trump for Fueling Flames of Hatred, Promoting White Nationalist Bannon to White House

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (Photo: Senate Democrats/Flickr Creative Commons)

Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) (Photo: Senate Democrats/Flickr Creative Commons)

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the Senate floor on Tuesday to blast Donald Trump for some of his more controversial words and actions, including his appointment of white nationalist Steve Bannon to a top White House position.

Reid, who is retiring, noted that Trump, “a man who lost the election by two million votes [but who] is now the president-elect,” has inspired hatred and stoked fear across the country. “His election has sparked a wave of hate crimes across America,” said Reid, who cited Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and FBI statistics showing a 67 percent surge in anti-Muslim hate crimes last year and at least 315 incidents of “hateful harassment and intimidation” since last week’s election.

In the face of such hatred, Reid said all Americans share a responsibility to confront bigotry and intolerance:

“We have the responsibility to be the voice of millions of Americans [who are] afraid they’re not welcome anymore in Donald Trump’s America. We have a responsibility to prevent Trump’s bullying and aggressive behavior from becoming normalized in the eyes of America, especially the millions of young people wondering, for example, if sexual assault is now a laughing matter. We have a responsibility to say it’s not normal for the Ku Klux Klan to celebrate the election of a president, who they view as their champion, with a victory parade.”

Reid mentioned some of the hundreds of reported post-election hate crimes, including “anti-Muslim, anti-Hispanic, anti-African American, anti-LGBT, anti-Semitic and anti-Asian” attacks, harassment and intimidation. ”There is a critical question for us as a country,” said Reid. “How do we respond to the election of Donald Trump?”

“How do we teach our children that bragging about sexual assault is abhorrent by rushing into the arms of a man who dismissed it as ‘locker room talk?’” asked Reid, who added that “if we fail to hold Trump accountable, we all bear a major responsibility for normalizing his behavior.”

“Healing the wounds [Trump] inflicted is going to take more than words,” Reid continued. “Talk is cheap and tweets are cheaper. Healing wounds is going to take action. But so far, rather than healing these wounds, Trump’s actions have deepened them.”

Reid then slammed Trump’s appointment of Breitbart News executive chairman Steve Bannon, who he called a “champion of white supremacy,” as chief White House strategist. Racist and white nationalist leaders have applauded Trump’s promotion of his campaign manager, with former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke calling it “excellent.” 

Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has become a forum where racists, sexists, Jew- and Muslim-haters, xenophobes, homophobes and others openly express their bigoted views. Headlines from his tenure there include:

  • “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”
  • “Would You Rater Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?”
  • “Hoist It High and Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims a Glorious Heritage”
  • ”World Health Organization Report: Trannies 49x Higher HIV Rate”

Bannon has also been dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism. His ex-wife Mary Louise Picard, who he was once criminally charged with choking, swore under oath in court that Bannon said “he doesn’t like the way [Jews] raise their kids to be ‘whiny brats’ and that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews.”

“It’s not a message of healing,” Reid said of Bannon’s White House appointment. “If Trump is serious about seeking unity the first thing he should do is rescind his appointment of Steve Bannon.”

Reid concluded by calling on Trump to take action to demonstrate that “racism, bigotry and bullying have no place in the White House or in America.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) immediately followed and condemned Reid’s “tirade” against Trump and his team. “We had an election. The American people voted,” said Cornyn. “To come here after the American people have… made that choice and continue to disparage their choice… really just smacks of, well we used to call people like that sore losers, but frankly what he does is contribute to the coarsening of our discourse and debate.”

This article was also published on Daily Kos.

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